Letter to the editor: IB inclusivity

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Dear Nordic,

As an English teacher, IB teacher and former IHS student I wanted to write in about the IB program. I’m particularly interested in how IHS feels about IB and how we can make the program more inclusive.

I teach a class called Language and Literature (alongside Walker, Lund, and Burrus).  The aim of the class is to examine global issues within texts such as novels, poetry, short stories, films, television shows, music, paintings, photography, etc.. We can even look at advertisements, tweets, and webcomics. The class is dynamic, engaging, and important.  And yet, like many other IB teachers, I think our program is overshadowed by this idea that IB is “elite” or “only for smart kids.” I know I felt that way when I was an IB student at Inglemoor more than a decade ago.

We adopted Lang and Lit, and other courses, to make IB more accessible to everyone.  (Did you know that Walker and I don’t give homework beyond the reading?) Teachers are working hard on this messaging, and yet I still hear my 10th graders say “IB is going to be too hard for me.” or “Isn’t that a class for smart kids?” You are all smart kids.  I want to look at every single one of you and tell you that you can do it. You can take my class! And of course IB is challenging, and it’s not for everyone. But that’s your choice to make. I want you to think about taking any IB course (and get excited about offerings in all courses at IHS) rather than adopting the messaging that IB is only for a select few.

AP has figured this out. Kids take AP classes because of their interests and subjects where they want a challenge. For some reason, I think students feel like IB is still a school-within-a-school. Why is that?

So I have a challenge for you. If you are an IB student, be authentic about the experience, especially when passing information onto Freshman and Sophmores. What do you love about the program? What challenged you the most? What would you like to change? And make that change happen! And if you’re considering IB, think critically around the messaging that “IB doesn’t mean anything.” or “Don’t take IB.” I usually hear kids say this around exam season, which is stressful (but that’s okay!). And if you’re a non-IB student by choice, good for you! I think you are awesome and I’m proud that you made that decision for yourself.

Let’s all talk about school with positivity in mind. Let’s stop comparing sleep schedules and homework loads and test scores and extracurriculars. Can we shift the culture to one where we support one another and love all of the incredible classes that IHS has to offer?

 

Marita White,

IB teacher and IHS class of 2011